- Title: VARIOUS: North and South Korea to hold summit, but scepticism high
- Date: 8th August 2007
- Summary: (BN05) TOKYO, JAPAN (AUGUST 8, 2007) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF HISAHIKO OKAZAKI, INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST AND FORMER JAPANESE DIPLOMAT, WALKING IN A TOKYO OFFICE OKAZAKI WATCHING VIDEO OF PREVIOUS INTER-KOREAN SUMMIT IN 2000 SHOWN ON TV MONITOR (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) HISAHIKO OKAZAKI, PRESIDENT OF THE OKAZAKI INSTITUTE, SAYING: "If South Korea offers to North Korea more than what the six-party talks framework is offering to them, North Korea will not have to make concessions any more. Everything from petroleum to rice would come from South Korea, possibly causing a backlash against North Korea's denuclearisation issue."
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- Story Text: The leaders of the divided Koreas will hold a summit this month in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, the two sides announced on Wednesday (August 8).
"President Roh Moo-hyun of the Republic of Korea and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il agreed that President Roh will visit Pyongyang from August 28 to 30 for a summit," Baek Jong-chun, South Korea's chief presidential national security adviser, said at a news conference.
In a simultaneous announcement in North Korea, the North Korean KCNA news agency said both sides will hold a preparatory meeting in Kaesong, which is a South Korean-funded industrial estate, at an earlier date.
The first summit between then South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and current North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, in 2000, led to decreased tension and unprecedented cooperation between the two states.
That summit, also in Pyongyang, earned Kim Dae-jung the Nobel Peace Prize.
The announcement came as regional powers met in North Korea since Tuesday (August 7) on its Cold War frontier to discuss handing over massive oil aid in return for the impoverished state abandoning atomic weapons.
Baek Jong-chun says the summit aims to push forward nuclear talks and improve bilateral relations.
"The second inter-Korean summit will become a meaningful momentum to progress North Korea's nuclear issues and North-South relations simultaneously," said Baek.
South Korean National Intelligence Service Chief Kim Man-bok had visited Pyongyang and signed an agreement with North Korean counterpart Kim Yang-keon on Sunday (August 5), a presidential statement said.
Following the announcement, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun presided over a National Security Council (NSC) meeting on Wednesday (August 8) to discuss preparations for a second North-South summit.
Tokyo welcomed the news of the inter-Korean summit and added that it hoped the summit will help bring political stability to the region.
"We hope the summit will contribute not only to advancing the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula but to giving a boost to efforts by the international community to bring peace and stability throughout Northeast Asia," Japan's top government spokesman Yasuhisa Shiozaki told a regular news conference.
The summit comes as North Korea has made its most significant moves in years to roll back its nuclear arms programme when last month it shut its reactor and source of weapons-grade plutonium as a part of a six-way disarmament-for-aid deal.
But some analysts are sceptical, saying the summit is more focused on boosting Roh's image.
Hisahiko Okazaki, a former Japanese diploma, says the summit's timing could be counter-productive and could weaken the six-party's position on North Korea.
"If South Korea offers to North Korea more than what the six-party talks framework is offering to them, North Korea will not have to make concessions any more. Everything from petroleum to rice would come from South Korea, possibly causing a backlash against North Korea's denuclearisation issue," Okazaki said.
Reaction among South Koreans was mixed.
Some saw economic opportunities in the summit.
"I hope the South-North Korean summit will ease strained relations and increase inter-Korean exchanges to revitalise the economy," said fifty-four-year-old Hwang Kyu-duck.
But others felt it was yet another case of a struggling South giving too much to its neighbour.
"South Koreans are not well-off right now so there is no point in continuing to give aid to North Korea and get nothing in return. So I am pessimistic about the summit. I am not happy about North Korea getting everything they ask for," said fifty-three-year-old Kim In-sook.
The two countries are still technically at war as their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
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- Embargoed:23rd August 2007 13:00